Saturday, December 30, 2006

Queenstown: Southern Laughter

I'm a compulsive reader. Give me a piece of printed text, however mundane, my eyes are irresistibly drawn to the letters. So it was heaven wandering around Southern Laughter where every last inch of the place is plastered in poster-sized Far Side cartoons and jokes of all sorts.

And these beds! The bed in the double room was so comfortable it was hard to get an early start.

What I like most about Southern Laughter is the crowd. In the winter, the hostel serves free soup at 6 pm. People gather in the common room with their soup bowls, swapping stories and laughing at re-runs of Friends. I figure anyone who can stay in a hostel wallpapered with Gary Larson cartoons has to have a good sense of humor.

The rest of the facilities are pretty good. They've got a couple of spacious kitchens, and lounges with video libraries where we scared ourselves watching Stigmata late at night. The hot tub is fabulous after a long day of canyoning, if you don't mind making new acquaintances while getting your soak. Alternatively, if you'd prefer to meditate in the hot tub alone, 6 pm is the perfect window of opportunity while everyone else has rushed off to the soup pot.

Southern Laughter hostel kitchen
The staff was friendly and efficient, except for the one new guy whom we stumped on his first day by asking him about white-water kayaking. He got a little flustered after that. Turns out nobody offers white-water kayaking in Queenstown because it's too dangerous for the inexperienced.

My only complaint about Southern Laughter is - you guessed it - the bathrooms. The showers are fairly decent, although nothing like the superb ones at The Old Countryhouse. It's the sinks I can't stand. This hostel deserves to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world's smallest hostel sinks. There's barely enough space to wash your hands, let alone brush your teeth or wash your face.

You also need to watch out for the fire station across the street... but Queenstown is small enough that I guess practically all the hostels have to deal with either bar noise or fire engine noise. We opted for the fire station because at least we know the sirens won't run every night!

Minor quibbles aside, stays at Southern Laughter are bound to be cheerful ones. And that definitely gets my vote.

Information and Contact Details for Southern Laughter Lodge
  • Web site:
  • Rates range from NZ$23 per person for a share dorm over 4 beds, to NZ$54 for a double with shared bathrooms/showers.
  • Address: 4 Isle Street, Queenstown, New Zealand
  • E-mail:
  • Phone: 0800 5284 4837 (local toll-free) or +64 3 441 8828 (international)
What others are saying about Southern Laughter

paragliders over QueenstownRead the previous entry or check out the rest of this New Zealand trip series.

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